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As of right now, the State of Indiana has imposed a stay-at-home order for all residents. Those who are found in violation of that order can be charged with a Class-A misdemeanor, which is no joke. Already, one man has been charged with violation of the order (and an OWI) after he crashed into three parked cars on his way home from a friend’s house.
More citations like this are likely in the coming months as the quarantine protocol continues. But law enforcement officers and prosecutors have both cited the need for discretion in these cases. What does that mean? Well, currently, Indiana residents are still allowed to perform necessary functions. This includes going to work for employees who have been deemed essential. It also means trips to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the drug store, and other places that have been left open. It can also mean caring for a sick relative or purchasing groceries for someone who cannot do it themselves.
So with so many obvious exceptions to leaving your house, how will the order be enforced?
Currently, police say that you will not be pulled over if they simply find you driving down the road. The concern, of course, is that the mere presence of a vehicle on the road becomes probable cause to pull the vehicle over. Police say that will not be the case.
Those who are “knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly” disobeying the governor’s stay-at-home order will be charged with a Class-B misdemeanor. Depending on where you live, the penalty can be enhanced to a Class-A misdemeanor. However, the decision to place an individual under arrest for violating such an order will only be made under extreme circumstances, according to law enforcement.
Thus far, the majority of those who have been charged with a violation of the emergency order are those who were pulled over on suspicion of operating their vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Between March 21 and April 3, troopers have issued 21 tickets statewide for quarantine violations. In every case, the charges were piled atop other violations.
Prosecutors still have discretion over whether or not they will pursue charges against those who have been cited for the violation. There are other complications as well. Since the order pertains to residents of Indiana, those who are visiting from out of state may not be able to be charged with a crime. Prosecutors must prove that those charged live in Indiana.
If you are charged with OWI or violating the quarantine order, call the attorneys at The Bellinger Law Office to learn more about how we can help.
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